The Epic Hero Definition: Comparing Two Heroes in ‘Gilgamesh’ and ‘Harry Potter’

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Last Updated: 26-Jun-23
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The word "hero" can be defined in many ways. At a younger age, it was a mother or father and maybe even a professional athlete or actor. As more birthdays pass, the word "hero" tends to veer more towards people whom have impacted lives in a way one wishes they could do in the future. In ancient mythology, the word "hero" isn`t defined the same way people are used to hearing. There are many characteristics that define an "epic hero" and those would not apply to a normal human. Some characteristics include, an unusual birth, battles monsters and/or demands, and even descending to the underworld or afterlife and knowing how their journey went. Gilgamesh and Harry Potter are two literary figures that fit into almost every aspect and characteristic of the definition, an epic hero, but contrast in the ways they fit into the characteristics.

An unusual birth is a common characteristic of an epic hero. Harry Potter, for example, has a witch as a mother (Lily Potter) and a pureblood wizard as a father (James Potter). This is rare because Harry Potter`s mother was born into a muggle family, but she was born a witch. Gilgamesh is a demi-god and was born 2/3 god and 1/3 human. His father was a priest and his mother was a god. I would compare Lily Potter to Ishtar in the Epic of Gilgamesh because Lily Potter sacrifices her life to save her son`s and Ishtar is the goddess of love and fertility, which makes her a nurturing mother figure.

Although Gilgamesh did not have any threats during infancy, Harry Potter had a big one that really shaped how others viewed him. Harry Potter`s villain, Voldemort (the man who shall not be named), tried to kill him when he was an infant. The reasoning behind Voldemort wanting to kill Harry is because Voldemort was lead to believe that Harry would be the one whose powers would cause him to vanquish. Once he found this information out, he entered into the Potter`s home and cast a killing spell on Harry, but it did not work because Lily and James were in the way. The killing spell that was cast at Harry caused the lightning bolt scar on his forehead. This lightning bolt scar that Harry has on his forehead can be symbolic towards Zeus who was the King of the Olympian Gods and was known for carrying around a lightning bolt to show his status.